Following the signing of a historic intergovernmental agreement, work will start in February on the next stage in the modernisation of the Interstate Rail Network, a $1.1 billion project which will speed up the movement of trains through Sydney, take up to 200,000 trucks a year off its roads and improve the reliability of passenger trains.
Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese today joined NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell at Hornsby Station for the announcement, with both pledging to work together to upgrade the corridor from North Strathfield through Sydney’s northern suburbs to Newcastle.
“At present, Sydney is the biggest bottleneck on the main line between Melbourne and Brisbane. The Northern Sydney Freight Corridor Upgrade project will ease this congestion by greatly expanding track capacity along this 160 kilometre long corridor,” said Mr Albanese.
“After almost three years of detailed planning and preconstruction activities, we’ve today pressed the ‘go’ button on a project which will help keep Sydney and Australia moving.
“Once completed in 2016, the new infrastructure will lift the corridor’s carrying capacity by 50 per cent from 29 to 44 freight trains a day, helping to accommodate the threefold increase in interstate freight volumes that’s expected over coming years.”
The project is expected to cut annual carbon emissions by more than 100,000 tonnes.
Jointly funded by the Federal ($840 million) and NSW ($214 million) governments, the Northern Sydney Freight Corridor Upgrade will build a rail underpass at North Strathfield, lay a third track between Epping and Pennant Hills, install new passing loops near Gosford and construct a holding track at Hexham – see below.
These projects will enable better coordination of freight and passenger services. New passing loops and new track will reduce the impact of freight trains on passenger services providing locations for passenger trains to overtake slower freight trains.
Premier O’Farrell said as well as reducing transport costs, improving the competitiveness of freight rail and boosting national productivity, the project will also deliver benefits to the wider community, particularly commuters.
“In addition to taking hundreds of thousands of trucks off Sydney’s roads and motorways, this major infrastructure project will improve the reliability of passenger services,” said Mr O’Farrell.
“It will provide new passing loops and new track which will reduce the impact of freight trains on passenger services providing locations for passenger trains to overtake slower freight trains.
“This will be a real benefit for commuters travelling into the city from the Central Coast and the Hunter.
“We’re getting on with the job of delivering the infrastructure this State desperately needs.
“Commuters at Concord West and Cheltenham will also benefit from new easy access stations upgrades as part of the project,” Mr O’Farrell said.
The 20-year Memorandum of Understanding also guarantees more freight trains better access to the corridor while continuing to prioritise the reliability of commuter services.
Northern Sydney Freight Corridor